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Nuclear ‘still a future option’ for SSE despite NuGen sale

Alistair Phillips-Davies: cautious
Alistair Phillips-Davies: cautious

SCOTTISH and Southern Energy (SSE) has not ruled out a return to nuclear power despite confirming plans to focus on other energy sources.

The Perth-based utility will sell its 25% stake in NuGen, a consortium planning to build a nuclear plant in Cumbria, so it can devote more cash to renewable and alternative-energy projects.

SSE said NuGen would have to make a multibillion-pound investment decision over plans for the plant near Sellafield in 2015, but just getting to that stage would drain significant resources.

Alistair Phillips-Davies, the group’s generation and supply director, said: “We have made it clear from the start of our involvement in NuGen that . . . our core investment in generation should be in renewable energy.”

“We have always adopted a cautious approach to the financial and other issues associated with nuclear-power development.

“For the time being, our resources are better deployed on business activities and technologies where we have the greatest knowledge and experience.”

The company might become involved in nuclear energy again, however.

Mr Phillips-Davies said it was clear there was public policy and planning impetus behind new nuclear developments. He added: “We may become involved again at a future date, either as an investor or as a purchaser of electricity.

“But for the moment our investment plans are focused on renewable-energy, gas-fired generation, including carbon capture and storage options, and alternative-energy developments.”

Fellow NuGen partners Iberdrola and GDF Suez said that they would raise their stakes in the consortium to 50% each.

In a joint statement, the companies said: “We are . . . highly confident about our prospects in respect of our development plans in west Cumbria and there is no reason why this decision by SSE should impact upon our plans or timetable.”

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